By Lara Carson & Marissa Vichayapai
As news circulates of President Trump’s termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, anxieties surge among members of the local Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community.
State attorney generals from 10 conservative states have announced an ultimatum to sue the Trump administration if it does not repeal DACA, a program which entitles young, undocumented people to work and receive education free of the threat of deportation.
In Washington alone, APIs constitute 26 percent of the state’s undocumented population with 10 percent eligible for DACA. Without access to DACA, undocumented APIs may experience violations to their most fundamental rights including access to healthcare and fair working conditions along with the eminent possibility of deportation.
With the announcement that DACA will be phased out after six months, it is critical for DACA recipients and undocumented APIs to know their rights and practice precaution.
No new applications for DACA will be accepted, but those with a permit will continue to benefit from the program until the permit expire. DACA recipients whose permits will expire between today and March 5 can apply for renewal by October 5.
Among the liberties secured by DACA is the use of Employment Authorization Documents (EAD). These work permits obtained through DACA are valid until their respective expiration dates. EAD ensure the legal right to work even if DACA is revoked. Employers are not permitted to fire or alter work status of employees with valid EAD and employees are not obligated to inform their employers of any changes to DACA.
DACA recipients can also acquire social security numbers through the program that are effective in perpetuity, regardless of DACA’s status or the validity of EAD. Those with social security numbers may continue to use them for banking, housing, education and other purposes. DACA recipients without a social security number should apply for one while DACA is still legitimate, though they can only be used for employment functions with possession of a valid EAD.
Primarily, DACA protects recipients from the danger of being deported. However, as the program’s future is determined, criminal arrests may increase the risk of deportation for undocumented APIs. If stopped by law enforcement, undocumented APIs have the right to remain silent and refuse entry into their homes.
Whether defended by DACA or not, undocumented APIs are entitled to constitutional protections.
To learn more about resources available for undocumented APIs, visit www.21progress.org.